You’ll be forgiven if you’ve clicked on this post with caution. Is it one of those dodgy posts where soft play is actually an innuendo for a flaccid penis? You’ll also be forgiven if you have embarked on this post hoping to find voluptuous women doing all sorts of things to the male genitalia. However, you will be shit out of luck. This post is simply a run down of the challenges I find myself facing whilst running around a soft play centre with my little boy.

I love the look on Rupert’s face when we pull up outside. Bright, colourful stickers of jungle animals on the windows, other little people queuing up with the anticipation of having the time of their lives! I also love soft play because, quite frankly, I never went to these places as a child and my enjoyment is on par, if not more than, the majority of the children in the play centre.

It must be said, my stature is somewhat different to the children the equipment was designed for. The fact that I’m a healthy size 16 (and an extraordinary heavy one at that; must be heavy boned…) means that I have to approach some of the apparatus with caution. Before we go any further, I am under the weight limit specified on the instructions board. It still makes me question that weight limit when I find myself faced with an elastic style cargo net that Rupert has already scrambled across before I’d caught up with him.

Now, little Rupert is just 22 months; he should still be playing in the toddler section full of small, spongy cubes and ball pits. But I see his eyes light up at the bigger adventure zones and the pull is too strong for us both. Besides, there is hardly anyone using the bigger equipment during term time.

Due to his size, I still need to assist with leg ups and lift overs. Everything else is a game of ‘Mummy needs to catch up’. He’s got slides in the bag. Shame there’s about 66 of them which end up in completely separate zones of the play area. I’m literally a sweat bomb by the end of our session but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself with the added bonus of some exercise. Rupert is a happy chappy and exhausted. Win/win.

I like to view myself as a bit of a soft play pro now and in a position to share some of my handy hints and guides to the fuller figured mother and the soft play experience. So here goes:

  1. Wear loose clothing that you don’t really care about. Sure, you might bump into the extremely beautiful, well groomed mother from baby group, but stuff it. You’re here to play just as much as the kids. She potentially has no intention of getting her on-trend Topshop Unique shirt yanked through a rotating tunnel. And if she does, bravo to her. Can she please tell me what make-up brand she uses as mine sweated off 30 minutes ago.

  2. Wear a well fitted bra. I wouldn’t go as far to say that you need to fish out your (potentially dusty) sports bra, but whatever you choose must support those gorgeous boobs of yours. I’m the first to admit that I have some bras that fit better than others. And yes, I have had the boob flop over the top of the cup during a crawling stint. Not a good look and to be avoided in future.

  3. Test the less than robust equipment gently before throwing your full body weight onto it, WWE smackdown style. There is a particular section in one of my favourite soft play centres that has a spider web of strechy bands. It spans the full height of the apparatus, with various levels to wind your way through. I actually had a vision of every single band snapping under the pressure of my weight. And the reality of watching a stocky father boldly attempting the web weaving was a very nail-biting ordeal indeed. He certainly overestimated his stealth-like ability and ended up imitating a dead moose flopping from one level to the next. I doubt it was the smooth look he was going for.

  4. If the gap looks too small, it probably is. Don’t attempt to squeeze past it/under it/ over it. You’re likely to get stuck and you’re likely to lose sight of your child. Staff may need to assist in dislodging you. *shudders at thought*

  5. Wear clothes you can tuck in if necessary. Trampolines are amazing fun and I really don’t give a crap if everything wobbles whilst I’m on one. I do mind if the top rises up to display all the flesh on my stomach. Potentially my (ill fitting) bra too.

  6. And finally, wear comfortable knickers. Wedgies seriously hinder your athleticism.

General advice for any shaped soft play participant:

  1. For all you spectacle wearing stunners, stow them safely away. It may make the adventure more surprising and potentially more dangerous, but at least you won’t have to hot foot it down to Boots Opticians for a replacement pair. Obviously contacts are a safe option too. Assuming a ball doesn’t get smacked into your eye.

  2. Wear socks. Sounds like a standard but so many people get caught out in the summer. £2.50 for one pair is the average price you’ll pay for your forgetfulness.

  3. Some materials create less friction than others. Wear the right clothing for your recklessness. Denim jeans for you slow and steady types. Anything made of 100% nylon for you thrill seekers.

And that’s about all of my words of wisdom regarding soft play, go and get stuck in if you're brave enough.

Published by Holly Leppard